Short Takes: 300: Rise of an Empire, RoboCop, The Wind Rises


300: Rise of an Empire- An unnecessary sequel to an unnecessary graphic novel adaptation. 300: Rise of an Empire didn’t have a lot to live up to and was much better off for it.  How many macho action flicks feature a female character who is so in control and more fully clothed than male eye candy?

Eva Green’s villainous military commander aside, this is the same slow-motion bloodbath that the original was.  The movie’s visual tint doesn’t save the bland, uninspired action sequences and the relentlessly stupid dialogue and story. Had they followed through on the (dare I say?) feminist undertones of Green’s character and given her an actual arc, this may have been a much more interesting movie. Grade: D+

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REVIEW: Immortals

Directed by: Tarsem Singh
Written by: Charley Parlapanides & Vince Parlapanides (screenplay)
Starring: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Freida Pinto and John Hurt

Unlike most bad movies, Immortals is quite beautiful to look at.  From the plethora of computer-generated vistas to the shimmering metal of every blood-tainted sword, director Tarsem Singh takes the lifeless screenplay and plows his way through it with a visual grandeur that dwarfs most other modern action movies.

The initial image is of the mighty Titans, who in Greek lore are the greatest threat to the Gods.  Here they are dwarfed down to human size as opposed to the mighty renditions in the Disney version of Hercules or the God of War video games.  There is a lightning-quick battle between them and Zeus’ crowd, though that King of the Gods is missing his thunderous super powers as well.

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REVIEW: 13 Assassins

13 Assassins
Directed by: Takashi Miike
Written by: Daisuke Tengan (screenplay)
Starring: Kôji Yakusho, Garô Inagaki, Masachika Ichimura, and Takayuki Yamada

It turns out the man behind the gruesome yet oddly beautiful Japanese horror film Audition has the blood for hard-boiled samurai action. 13 Assassins has perhaps the most gloriously choreographed battle sequence since Helm’s Deep from Lord of the Rings.  Yes, it is that good.

Outside of that nearly 45 minute slice of cinematic glory is a fairly standard if beautifully shot good vs. evil story.  The aging samurai Shinzaemon (Kôji Yakusho) is taken from his quiet days of fishing and secretly tasked by an official in the Japanese Shogun regime to kill the tyrant Naritsugu (Garô Inagaki), who will take a spot on the council and inevitably disrupt the peace with his war-craving lunacy.

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REVIEW: Sucker Punch

Sucker Punch
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Written by: Zack Snyder & Steve Shibuya (screenplay)
Starring: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, and Vanessa Hudgens

Remakes and graphic novel adaptations are Zack Snyder’s MO.  Lately though, with last year’s Legend of the Guardians and now Sucker Punch, he’s decided to take his over-stylized style off of the comic book page and map out novels or original material into his own wild odyssey.

Sucker Punch has Snyder’s name all over it from the get-go.  It begins with a violent slow-motion sequence of a young girl (Emily Browning) accidentally shooting her sister when she was aiming for her wicked stepfather and then being brought to a mental hospital where she will await her lobotomy.

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If they were in television… Zack Snyder

Notable films: Dawn of the Dead, 300 and Watchmen.

Famous for: Comic book adaptations. Slow motion during fight scenes, multiple cuts, zoom-ins and close-ups during action sequences. Shooting films entirely in front of a green screen. Dark, grimy visuals with highly saturated colors. Rock and roll soundtracks. War allegories. Releasing movies in March.

Hypothetical title: The Break

Hypothetical premise: The stage is set in San Francisco only moments after the bombings of Pearl Harbor struck the nation. The city is in political chaos as city and government leaders prepare to handle the increasing population of Japanese Americans living amongst the diverse population. Allegories and criticism toward the reaction of 9/11 and modern terrorism can be made throughout the series. This is Snyder’s fictional re-envision of WWII on the west coast. Continue reading

Five Movies to Celebrate The Fourth of July

1. The Patriot– A South Carolina farmer and French-Indian war vet haunted by his past wants no part of the Revolutionary War, at least until one of his sons is taken by the a British colonel. Based very loosely on history and tightly on American ideals of simple people fighting for their family, Roland Emmerich directs one film that actually works to build American landmarks instead of destroying them. Patriotic spirit, Mel Gibson, history, farming, a father’s love and a very sharp Heath Ledger make this actioner about as American as it gets.

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